Linux Mint 8 on Vaio VPCCW26FG

Once upon a time I got a brand new Sony Vaio VPCCW26FG, due to hardware problem with my previous notebook. It’s quite elegant, maybe because it has a white color. It came with Windows 7. I tried Windows 7 for a few weeks. I can say Windows 7 is far much better than Windows Vista. It’s boot speed is amazing, less than a minute I can start an application already. It’s display also a mouth drooling appearance. It’s task bar only shows the running application’s icon, where we can see the mini application version by hovering the mouse over it. But, there are two things that obviously I don’t like from Windows 7. Firstly, the main menu system (the menu that shown after click the Start Menu) is too pack. When I select to an application folder, it only shows the content of the folder. I still like the Windows XP menu system. Secondly, most of the applications that come with this notebook are trial version only. I can’t complain, actually, it’s just typical Windows environment. Every notebook that bundle with it always come with trial version applications. Just can’t complain…

Anyway, whatever how good a Windows Operating System is, I still wanted to use Linux on my Vaio. I still chose Linux Mint over other Linux distro, because I had faith with this distro. I installed the distro while I kept the Windows 7 on my system, so it was a dual-boot system. The installation went very smoothly and fast. Then, I started encounter problems, when I was configuring the system. There are two major problems that I encountered:

  1. The wireless was not working either.
  2. NVidia driver was not working properly, the screen just shown a blank screen after I installed the NVidia driver and restarted the system.

Fixing Wireless Hardware

Vaio VPCCW26FG is using Intel network device 422c. I found out from Ubuntu forum that this problem could be fix by installing backported kernel. I followed the instruction and it fixed the problem. My Linux Mint was able to detect the wireless hardware. The kernel version that I used is 2.6.31-19-generic. Read this thread to get more information.

I think this problem was rather easy to fix.

Installing NVidia Driver

Fixing this problem was more difficult than the wireless problem. I spent a few days to find the solution in the Internet. Eventually I found the solution in Ubuntu forum as well. In order to fix this problem I needed to extract the display edid from running Windows in the notebook by using special program. But, somehow the programs that mentioned in the forum thread was not working properly with Windows 7. In the end I was using the edid that provided in the forum thread. The edid had to be put in /etc/X11 folder. After that, I installed the NVidia driver, and amended xorg.conf to include the edid.

Below is my xorg.conf file content:

Section “ServerLayout”
Identifier     “Layout0”
Screen      0  “Screen0” 0 0
InputDevice    “Keyboard0” “CoreKeyboard”
InputDevice    “Mouse0” “CorePointer”
EndSection

Section “Module”
Load           “dbe”
Load           “extmod”
Load           “type1”
Load           “freetype”
Load           “glx”
EndSection

Section “ServerFlags”
Option         “Xinerama” “0”
EndSection

Section “InputDevice”
Identifier     “Mouse0”
Driver         “mouse”
Option         “Protocol” “auto”
Option         “Device” “/dev/psaux”
Option         “Emulate3Buttons” “no”
Option         “ZAxisMapping” “4 5”
EndSection

Section “InputDevice”
Identifier     “Keyboard0”
Driver         “kbd”
EndSection

Section “Monitor”
Identifier     “Monitor0”
VendorName     “Unknown”
ModelName      “Nvidia Default Flat Panel”
HorizSync       29.0 – 47.0
VertRefresh     0.0 – 61.0
Option         “DPMS”
EndSection

Section “Device”
Identifier     “Device0”
Driver         “nvidia”
VendorName     “NVIDIA Corporation”
BoardName      “GeForce GT 330M”
EndSection

Section “Screen”
Identifier     “Screen0”
Device         “Device0”
Monitor        “Monitor0”
DefaultDepth    24
Option         “TwinView” “0”
Option         “metamodes” “nvidia-auto-select +0+0”
Option         “ConnectedMonitor” “DFP-0,DFP-1,CRT”
Option         “CustomEDID” “DFP-0:/etc/X11/sony_VAIO_CW_1600_900.bin”
SubSection     “Display”
Depth       24
EndSubSection
EndSection

For more detail information and to get the edid, please read this thread.

For anyone who encounter the same problems with me, you have to fix the wireless problem first before fix the NVidia driver. Because installing NVidia driver will modify your Linux kernel.

My Brand New Helena

Last week I replace my Felicia (Linux Mint 6) with Helena (Linux Mint 8). The installation was similar with any previous Linux Mint, but the most obvious different was there was an introduction slide show when installing Helena.

With a little bit of modification my desktop looks like this.

Helena Desktop

My Desktop of Helena

You can find in the Internet for full screen shots of Helena.

After I used Helena for almost 1 week, I can confirm several best things from Helena compare to her sibling, Felicia.

  • Very fast boot time, this is very obvious, because Felicia needed almost 1 minute just to show login screen, and Helena only needs less than 30 seconds.
  • The time needed from login to ready desktop also very short.
  • Nice desktop theme. Even though I believe I can set the theme by myself, but as a default theme, it saves a lot of my time.
  • Firefox v.3.5 is much stable compare to the version 3.0.
  • Compiz is more smooth and stable.
  • This might be subjective, but I feel the program launching is faster and more stable.
  • One last thing the font seems nicer compare to Felicia’s.

But, I still have one big problem with Helena, the transfer rate from and to USB harddisk is very slow, or maybe, slower than Felicia. The transfer rate is only 1.5 – 4 MB/sec, which is very annoying.

Without transfer rate problem, I think Helena is a very perfect linux distro, especially for new comers.